Essential Mixing Plugins for Music Production in 2023
If you want to take your mixes to a professional level, having the right plugins in your toolkit is essential. Based on our experience, these 10 mixing plugins deliver the audio quality, flexibility, and precision needed to achieve pro-sounding results.
Pros: Extremely clean EQ, linear phase mode, dynamic EQ, customizable interface
Cons: Advanced features have a learning curve
With its pristine audio quality and surgical controls, Pro-Q 3 remains my go-to EQ for notching out resonances without compromising musicality. The dynamic EQ mode is perfect for natural de-essing and tight low-end.
A key feature is the dynamic EQ mode, which applies EQ only when user-defined thresholds are exceeded. This can be useful for transparent de-essing, controlling problematic frequencies, and other tasks requiring a dynamic approach. Zero latency, linear phase, and natural phase algorithms are included to suit different needs.
The interface provides visualization tools like a real-time spectrum analyzer and EQ curve display. Interactive components allow grabbing and adjusting peaks quickly. The surround sound support, advanced phase options, spectrum matching, and MIDI/external control integration provide extensive workflow customization.
Pros: Automates mix conflict resolution, simple interface, mid/side balance control, phase analysis, gain matching
FUSER aims to quickly resolve mix conflicts with smart sidechain ducking, phase rotation, and volume balancing. The visual interface identifies mid/side masking issues and guides your corrections.
While optimized for technical mix clarification rather than creative effects, FUSER provides an intelligent assistant for cleaning up a crowded mix. Producers praise its ability to create space and clarity when tracks compete.
At $59, this transparent mix optimizer automates tedious technical work, ideal for dense/complex mixes. FUSER won’t replace hands-on mixing skill, but gives your tracks an effortless clarity boost.
Pros: Adds rich analog warmth, easy to dial in sound, tone-shaping controls
Cons: No multiband controls
The 5 hardware-modeled distortion types recreate the sound of tubes, transistors, circuits, and studio gear pushed to warm overdrive. The responsive modeling captures the dynamics and complexity of real analog gear.
Tone controls shape the saturation from dark to bright. Mix knobs blend in dry signal for parallel processing. The “Punish” button kicks things into raucous overdrive.
While digital distortion can be cold and harsh, Decapitator keeps that raw, musical analog attitude. The models replicate both vintage classics and modern boutique gear, from consoles and preamps to distortions. The flexibility and control takes modeling far beyond simpler emulations.
Pros: Advanced delay features, analog-modeled sound, rhythmic/dub options, modulation
Cons: Intensive CPU usage, Expensive.
At the core are 30 distinct echo styles modeled on classic hardware like the Echoplex, Space Echo, Memory Man, and Roland RE-20. The analog-modeled processing captures the warm, rich sound of vintage delays.
You can further dial in the tone with controls for saturation, flutter, and diffusion. The Tape Head mode emulates Ampex tape saturation on vocals and more. Stereo Ping-Pong and Dual modes create immersive effects.
Pros: Natural, transparent sound quality, adaptive processing, intuitive visualization, versatile controls
Cons: Not always accurate, Expensive
The Weiss Deess provides studio-grade de-essing with exceptional transparency. Its adaptive processing automatically optimizes de-essing based on the audio.
The intuitive interface with FFT displays makes it easy to visualize and fine-tune the reduction of harsh sibilance. Two independent bands allow for de-essing precision not possible with single-band tools.
It delivers exceptionally natural de-essing results without compromising air and clarity. For everything from vocals to full mixes, the Weiss Deess aims to tame harshness with subtlety and musicality.
Pros: Generates glitchy textures and ambiences, deep modulation, inspiring creative tool
Cons: Quite CPU-intensive, more presets focused and can be intimidating to edit presets or create new.
It captures tiny “grains” of the input audio and manipulates them in intricate ways to transform sound. Grains can be pitch shifted, looped, scattered, distorted, and more for abstract textures.
Portal provides exceptional control over the granular engine with tweakable parameters like grain size and spacing, density, pitch spread, distortion, filtering, and smearing. The modulation options bring the effects to life with fluid motion.
Whether you need warped ambiences, glitchy transitions, cinematic risers, or just want to explore abstract sound design, Portal delivers. It shatters audio into pieces then reconstitutes it into everything from mellow pads to complete sonic mayhem.
Pros: 6 flexible bands, Precise control over sound, Clean compression
Cons: Complex interface, CPU-intensive
For transparent compression tailored to different frequency ranges, Pro-MB allows me to intuitively tame transients, control lows, and more without over-compressing. The clean analog-modeled sound retains dynamics.
The 6 fully customizable processing bands can be placed freely across the spectrum or snapped together for traditional crossovers. This allows complete control over where in the frequency range compression is applied.
Pro-MB handles every compression need – transparent glue, pumping effects, gating, limiting, and more. The unique Dynamic Phase mode delivers zero latency and no artifacts. Linear Phase and Minimum Phase options are also available. Each band provides deep compression shaping with controls for threshold, range, attack, release, ratio, knee, lookahead, stereo linking, and external sidechaining. Crossover slopes are adjustable from 6 dB/oct to 48 dB/oct. The interface makes it easy to analyze and adapt dynamics in each band.
Pros: Huge range of granular filters, completely reshapes sound, great for builds/drops
Cons: More of a sound design tool than a distortion plugin
At the core is a groundbreaking multi-polar distortion engine with 30 types and up to 6 processing stages. This allows for everything from subtle warmth to full-on mangled tones.
Rift 2.0 also features state-of-the-art morphing filters, physical modeling feedback loops, and flexible multi-band routing. This enables filter sweeps, distortions, and effects tailored to specific frequency ranges.
Pros: Controls uneven resonances dynamically, tightens low-end, preserves natural tone
Cons: Old-fashioned GUI
It adjusts frequencies like an EQ but also controls dynamics like a compressor – even allowing compression based on external sidechain signals. The 2-band design, filter types like Shelving and Pass Filters, and Mid/Side processing with crossfeed functions provide surgical tonal shaping.
Inverse Mode cuts bands when triggered for problem-solving flexibility. Whether tightening low end, creating sidechain ducking, or smoothing uneven vocals, bx_dynEQ V2 dynamically adapts as both a creative sound shaper and technical mixer’s toolbox.
Pros: Includes the ability to independently shape transients without affecting resonance, customize envelopes, and trigger external sidechains
Cons: Poor Graphical user interface.
With its variable multiband saturation, Transgressor 2 fattens and gives character while retaining dynamics. It adds richness to mixes without crushing them. The tone-shaping controls let me customize the harmonic character.
With this versatile mixing toolkit, engineers can achieve pro-level polish, tightness, and exciting sound design. Though pricey, these plugins provide the surgical precision, rich sound, and creative effects that take mixes to the next level. Give your music the high-quality production it deserves.
Level Up Your Mixes in 2023
These 10 mixing plugins provide today’s music producers with exceptional sound quality, rich analog character, and deep creative flexibility for next-level mixes. By mastering this diverse toolkit in 2023, you can achieve professional polish, solidify your mix foundations, and explore new creative territory. Don’t settle for stock plugins – step up to the professional mixing power of these essentials.